As we have often said before, a will is a living document and should be consistently updated to best reflect the life circumstances of the person to whom it refers. The changing financial circumstances of an individual means that their end of life wishes for assets, minor children, or other situations are often in flux. We highly recommend regularly looking over your end of life documents to ensure that they still reflect your most current wishes for your finances and other responsibilities. Here is a quick list of some of the best times to update your plans, including changes in marital status, additional dependents, changes to beneficiaries, or other major financial upheavals.
- Marriage: While marriage is a powerful personal and cultural change in your life, it is also a significant financial one as well. Since many of your assets and possessions will now be jointly owned by yourself and your partner, you’ll also need to stipulate any differences regarding your wishes for what you’re looking to pass on.
- Divorce or Separation: The statistics for divorce and separation in the US are steadily climbing, and if you have had to go through one of these life changes, you should be sure to reflect your documents to that reality. Otherwise, your former partner could be receiving financial compensation after you die if you have not fully finalized the divorce process. This is a delicate matter that is best supervised by an estate attorney.
- Birth of Children or Grandchildren: Adding in new beneficiaries to your will, such as a child or even grandchild, mean you’ll need to make changes to your estate planning process. Do add any new descendants or beneficiaries as soon as possible, because if you leave them out, they may have difficulties receiving their intended inheritance.
- Change in Beneficiaries: Should one of your former beneficiaries tragically die, or if your relationship with them changes, you’ll need to reflect that reality in your estate planning paperwork, most importantly your will. Additionally, if your child separated from their spouse, this should also be kept in mind for your legal preparations.
- Financial Changes: While it has serious sentimental value, a will is above all a financial document. Take great care to revise after starting a new business venture or coming into a sum of money. Be sure you explicitly state where you wish for any of your assets and properties to go to upon your death.
The above list is a great start to some instances where you should absolutely revise, but it is not exhaustive. If you are in need of revising your will for the above reasons or any others, you should immediately consult with an attorney. At the Law Office of Smith & Horowitz, we have the experience you deserve and the talent you’re looking for. For a free consultation, give us a call at (215) 515-8464.